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Take my kids’ dessert, Michelle. Please.

Submitted by on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 One Comment

Note to Sara Palin: Michelle Obama is free to stop by my house any evening and tell my kids they can’t have dessert. After seven-plus years of this war, I’m battle fatigued. Michelle would probably have better success anyway. She’s married to you-know-who, and Big Guy in particular is a big fan.

Note to Glenn Beck: Obama can take their french fries, too. I’m exhausted from that fight as well. The guys aren’t as rude to imply that I should stick a carrot stick where the sun don’t shine – they usually let it go with a more civilized “ewwwwwwww” – but their disdain is clear.

Yes, we all know that “government interference” won’t solve the obesity problem. Better school lunches won’t hurt, though, and it’s funny that when military leaders couched cafeteria food and obesity as a national security issue no one went nuts on them like they did on Obama.

And even Republicans such as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who’s walked the walk and run the marathon after shedding 100 pounds, know that Obama wasn’t trying to take over parenting everyone’s children. She was merely trying to suggest. Just as Nancy Reagan was when she told us to “just say no,” except her suggestion caught fire to the extent that it actually shaped national drug policy in some not-good ways.

The heck of it is, Obama’s anti-obesity campaign makes a ton of sense if you look at in from a viewpoint that’s not looking to stir hysteria. It acknowledges that we all eat burgers – fries and dessert, even – at times. But it also reminds us of the importance of eating healthy food and being active. How anyone can warp that message into the first lady taking candy from babies is beyond me.

Not that there aren’t serious policy issues involved in the obesity epidemic. Let’s start with agriculture subsidies that encourage corporate farming and make commodities such as corn super-cheap, which leads to manufacturers making high fructose corn syrup the sweetner of choice in many products. You don’t have to don a tinfoil hat to see the dangers in that, no matter how many bloggers the corn industry hires to try to convince you otherwise.

Yet when California Rep. Dennis Cardoza managed to redirect money – a paltry amount, really, when you’re talking about megabucks subsidies – toward so-called “specialty crops” Big Agra went nuts. “He’s trying to send more money to farmers in his district!” True, but just because it’s a little porkish doesn’t mean it’s not good policy.

“Specialty crops,” by the way, are fruits, vegetables and nuts. They’re the very things we should be seeing more of in school lunches, as opposed to traditional ag subsidies that go to wheat, corn, rice, cotton and soy growers and livestock farmers.

They’re also the very things that people in many low-income areas don’t have affordable access to. Obama suggested creating grants to improve that. Again, where’s the harm unless you’re trying to fuel partisan flames or defend your own industry’s subsidy. It’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends sometimes.

If Palin, Beck, et al want to have a serious discussion about obesity, let’s start there instead of teeing off about dessert and french fries.

I doubt they will, though. Specialty crops just aren’t that sexy as a sound bite.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • We can’t say we weren’t warned – but do we care? | 9to5to9 (author) said:

    [...] on the younger generation. The school lunch changes are a good start, but the USDA also should curb massive subsidies for things that are bad for us. But please don't waste more ink on something that people ignore. [...]